Presented in Collaboration with our Partner, Kathy Sobus, Sr. Director Customer Experience Strategy, ConvergeOne.
Customer expectations have never been higher. Omnichannel communications pull contact center agents in more directions than ever. Life as a contact center agent right now is stressful, to say the least. Unfortunately, companies often overlook the plight of the contact center—the bedrock of brand interactions—to the detriment of the organization.
Of course, the converse is true as well. Organizations that embrace their contact center employees as the “face of the company” really do excel at enhancing the top line or running efficiently and taking care of the bottom line. All at the same time as taking care of the customer.
It is this human element when customer and agent are together that really does solidify the brand of the organization. Your agents are your brand guardians. Empowering them with tools that help promote their employee engagement will create an environment of happy agents, which means happy customers; and you will increase agent retention as well.
The first human interactions many consumers experience with a brand is when something is wrong. No one calls the contact center to tell the brand they’re doing great, right? First impressions matter, because if that first contact with a company is a negative i.e.—the consumer is likely only to give that brand only one more chance to redeem itself. Calabrio’s State of the Contact Center report shows most consumers will only tolerate two (44%) or three (30%) negative interactions before switching brands. Enlightening, if not entirely unsurprising. Unless a brand has the market cornered, there are simply too many options to expect brand loyalty to survive bad experiences.
Knowing this, however, empowers brands to get ahead of the curve. If you can build a fortress of brand defenders out of a contact center, your brand can retain customers (and employees), and gain customers who’ve jumped ship from competing brands because of negative experiences. Transforming your contact center agents into brand guardians is not a small undertaking, but it is cost effective, and important to the expansion of a brand.
SMART COACHING + ONGOING TRAINING
In this labor market it is imperative to retain talent. A great way to do that is to upskill contact center agents, provide them with behavior-specific coaching, career pathing, and promote from within. This will foster employee engagement that will help enhance your brand.
More effective employee coaching helps address the agent retention pressures that contact center managers are feeling right now. Agents are happier and less stressed when they feel they’re skilled and successful in their jobs. Personalized training and coaching are also the core foundation for building a work environment that fosters professional development and growth.
Agents cite lack of professional development opportunities as one of the top reasons for leaving jobs right now, so better coaching is a powerful strategy for boosting employee performance and satisfaction today — and creating a talented and loyal workforce for tomorrow. Calabrio’s Quality Management and Performance Coaching deliver the ability to track agent behavior and skill sets to see which agents are excelling and which need additional coaching and training.
“With the great resignation, or quiet quitting, many clients today are finding themselves understaffed and, in some cases, severely. Coupling the technologies Calabrio offers with self-service tools has lessened this effect. Attrition is at an all-time high, with customers touting increases of 10-20% from the pre-pandemic timeframe. This motion around high expectations combined with agent attrition leads to poor satisfaction scores. Improving the agent environment with the combined solutions from Calabrio & ConvergeOne helps keep agents motivated, engaged, and on the way of becoming a brand guardian for you.”
Kathy Sobus, Sr. Director, Customer Experience Strategy, ConvergeOne
From there, let the data tell the story. Beginning coaching and training from a baseline of easily digestible facts allows managers and trainers to plan a course of action—moving into the future of the agent with a clear destination in mind. Evaluation forms will identify key behaviors and skills your agents need to help customers with their concerns. Utilize the data gathered to create specialized training to bolster the agent’s areas of need.
Effective coaching is vital to improving performance. Track coaching history to understand the effectiveness of coaches, which behaviors/skills are addressed, and which types of coaching sessions are administered. This way, if behaviors/skills are not improving, managers can review coaching holistically, rather than simply putting the onus on the agent to improve.
Data-driven performance coaching is no longer a nice to have, but a must-have in the era of remote and hybrid working.
EQUIPPING BRAND GUARDIANS
Customers are experiencing long wait times before speaking to an agent, and agents are overwhelmed by the amount of work coming in. This situation isn’t optimal for either of the participants. Customers have most likely tried every avenue possible to solve their issue before the contact center. If all that is true, the interaction will likely start off rushed and not favorable.
The outcome of this interaction rests in the hands of the agent to resolve. That agent is your brand guardian and how the customer feels afterward depends solely on what they say, what they do, and if they are empowered to make a difference. Using solutions which offer self-service in a way that answers the questions before escalating to an agent helps streamline operations and reduce this burden of volume. Lowering that stress point, combining it with the workforce performance technologies mentioned and creating a culture which nurtures the employee, engages the employee, will help increase customer and agent satisfaction.
“One bad interaction can have viral implications today and the brand will suffer as a result. I wish the converse was true. It takes many more good interactions to allow for the sought-after ratings to improve brand identity and awareness. Having your brand guardians establishing this in a consistent manner will increase brand loyalty and help your bottom line.
Remember, if you don’t take care of your customer, your competition will.”
Kathy Sobus, Sr. Director, Customer Experience Strategy, ConvergeOne
Happy agents protect the brand, but they need the proper tools to do so. Workforce Management solutions from Calabrio and ConvergeOne empower agents to take control of their work/life balance and allow managers to accurately forecast scheduling needs. Features like self-scheduling, shift-bidding/shift-trading, and the ability to move breaks and lunches put control in the hands of the agent.
Using analytics not only to understand what the customers are saying, but how the interaction is actually going—and what the resolution was helps agents become brand guardians. These are key steps to providing a collaborative environment which promotes brands in many cases.
With data available in real-time it is easy for managers and agents to see trends and address challenges before they get out of hand. However, the inverse is true as well. When we see agents excelling in sentiment analysis and predictive net promoter scores, they can be held up as a model for the contact center. We can know immediately, factually, what they are doing through speech, text, and desktop analytics and coach other agents, or new agents, in the appropriate manner. This way we have a standard brand guardian baseline, and goals to strive to.
Ultimately, contact center leaders must spend time, and budget, to uphold contact center agents as brand guardians. The brand’s reputation is at stake in every customer interaction. And today, perception of the brand is all-important. The contact center must not be neglected. Agents must be empowered, emboldened, and inspired to be frontline brand guardians. The results will speak for themselves.